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Worried about the Future while Trying to Live in the Present

Friday March 3rd 2017

I had another difficult sleep last night. Tried to take less Meletonin than the nights before, but the panic and fear about sleeping is so strong, I had to take my usual dose. It feels unnatural to take anything to sleep. Last year I had to as well and it messed me up for months. The fear of sustaining our lifestyle plagues me most at night. Two specific things fill me with worry. Lack of CD sales and park rangers bothering us. I try to think of ways to fix the problems, but I can’t. The park rangers may always bother us and we may never be able to sell CDs like we did before. We may also never have stability. It’s terrifying to me. Selling CDs is a major factor to our lives being sustainable. I wish we had somewhere else to play in the winter, but we don’t. These months have always been bleak, but right now it’s worse than ever before. It’s not like we sell lots of CDs elsewhere. People don’t buy them much anymore, and there is nothing to replace them. I don’t know what to do about it either. It’s not just something that sustains us, selling our music puts it into people’s lives and minds and hearts when they don’t see us live. It keeps us with them. Without taking away our music on CD, people won’t hear it again (unless they film it, but that isn’t the same as listening to our professionally recorded albums.) Our yet-to-be-released album has music on it no one has ever heard, but why release it if we can’t find a way to make money off it? Why does everything have to be so frighteningly unstable? Sometimes I just can’t take it anymore. I didn’t work on anything creative this morning. No play writing or drawing. Just fear.

I talked to someone close to me about how I was feeling and got to feeling even worse. I felt like it was our fault that things aren’t going well for us right now. That it’s because we don’t sing in English or because our music is simplistic. That’s not why, I know. It can’t be. We’re not going to change the core of what we do; singing in a made up language with our two voices, two violins and foot percussion with magical makeup and costumes. We change every day, as our most dedicated fans know. Lots of artists have had success not singing in English or their music being simple. Cirque Du Soleil and Philippe Glass are the first things that come to mind, two very successful, famous and well respected groups/people. We haven’t gotten worse either. We’ve gotten so much better. Our albums have gotten better too. It’s easy for someone to blame how we make our music for our lack of success when we’re not successful. If we were successful and had something to show for what we’ve done, no one would say that. People love our music and used to buy it in droves. If everyone who was uniquely making art/music/theater in their own unique way changed in order to possibly find more success we wouldn’t have all the great unique artists in the world. Somehow feeling like I did I managed to do some really beautiful makeup for today’s prayfomance. It helps my mood to feel pretty. I put together a really beautiful outfit, too. I don’t call it a costume, costume implies falseness and fakery to me. I am always me when I prayform, the heightened, expanded and outrageous me, even if I’m feeling sad, like today.

      As we biked to the park, I started saying positive things to myself. “I’m lucky. I have Thoth. He’s never going to abandon me. I have my sister and my mom and dad who love me. I’m never going to starve or be homeless. I have my voice and all my talents… Drawing, acting, makeup, costuming, writing… I’m so lucky to be able to support myself by playing music. Things will get better. Everything will balance out. We’ve been through much worse. I need to stay positive. I have a dream, a very specific goal. Who at my age knows exactly what they want? I know exactly what I want. I want to perform our operas with Michael Chiaravelotti, our hand drummer friend and James Swanton, my brilliant young British actor friend. We have this beautiful work we’re doing. Something could happen at any moment. We just can’t stop prayforming. We have to keep the dream alive.” Last night while Thoth was making dinner, we were talking excitedly about this goal, how we could make it happen. It seems impossible. We’d need money and a venue and an audience. All things we don’t yet have. It’s got to happen. I’m chomping at the bit these days, raring to go. I’m not going to be 29 forever. I’m in my prime.

As we were getting ready to play, a police officer on a motorcycle stopped by every street performer on the Prado and asked them to produce a permit. He didn’t see us as we didn’t have a crowd. We watched, feeling very scared as we have never seen police officers bother the street performers before. Officer Morales is our friend and I think he is head.  As we played, I began feeling like sh*t again. We had nice crowds and the weather was amazing, but the interest in CDs or in any interaction with us at all was almost non existent, as it has been for months. We need a patron, or patrons. We can’t survive off tips alone. We’ve had dry spells in the past, but not like this, and it’s just getting worse. Thank God we’re healthy enough of body and mind to keep trying, despite it feeling sometimes like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. Today I did. I felt so alone today. Even though people were watching us and clapping, I felt like we are completely alone and people could care less about us. No one in our audiences can help us other than saying a kind word or throwing in a few bucks. I have this feeling that I wish our audience would step forward and do something. Our friends do that just by being there. Tori was there. She cared. I knew she did. We were terrified of the officer coming back and bothering us. He went by again, but we were taking a break and again he didn’t see us. Lucky, but we’re not safe. What a horrible feeling. No safety net. My armpits were sweating as we continued, the thought at the back of our mind we’d be arrested or harassed at any moment. I don’t want to talk to police ever again. It makes me feel helpless and horrible. We’re not doing anything wrong. We shouldn’t be afraid of police. They should be protecting us, not threatening us.

As the play continued, I got more and more sad. Same thing. No CD sales. I said we have CDs and download cards after every song. No inquiries. It gets old. I don’t know what else to say. I feel like I’m giving away my very soul when I sing and people don’t even bother to say anything. At least we had an audience, unlike on Wednesday. We played a beautiful improvisation. We’ve been coming up with a lot of new music on these very dark, difficult days. I don’t know how or why. I hope things get better somehow. I do like the honest, eye to eye, hand to hand way we live our lives. It’s genuine and raw and honest and beautiful. We’re one of the last artists to be bringing something so unique to the public and only a few people understand how lucky they are. Our friends do. I’d like to be surprised by our audience for once. Surprised by their generosity and kindness and going the extra mile. We need it so much right now. We need some help.

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Thought and Feelings of a Living, Working, Struggling Musician, Artist and Performer

Saturday February 18th 2017

Hi friends! I’m sorry I’m getting so behind on the blogs these days. Sometimes, like now, I become hyper focused on drawing and writing and have zero interest in blogging. I know there are a few dedicated readers who miss it when I don’t write consistently. I’m sorry. It’s hard to keep it up just for a few people, though that should be motivation enough because I know those few people love and care about us very much. It’s sometimes just hard to keep everything going when I think too much about how insignificant it is. My talents are numerous and I have a skill set that many people would die to have (I didn’t say that, a friend did), but being talented doesn’t make it any easier sometimes. Being talented makes life harder I think. When you’re talented, your able to see the way things are more clearly than others. I talked to our friend Bill about it tonight after prayformance. What is the point of it all, when neither Thoth or I have anything to show for what we’ve done? He said it’s not about the result, it’s about doing it. Thoth said the exact same thing last night. Creation is the process of the soul. Bill said something else significant too. He said maybe we look down from somewhere before we’re born and say, “That would be the best life for me to increase my spirit. A life of making art every single day and getting no physical rewards for it, possibly for my entire life. That would make me a better person and a purer soul.” The challenge to create not for gain but for increasing  something completely invisible, personal spiritual power. Thoth said something similar last night. Making art isn’t about the result, it’s about increasing ones self. The goal is not the  end result, the goal is the process. The goal is doing the work. The trick is turning away from a world that looks for physical rewards as being the only reason to work hard on anything and doing it simply to increase the self. Harder than it seems! To create simply to create, just as nature does. We are so like nature.

Oh man, today was tough. This whole week has been tough. It was supposed to downpour yesterday when we were supposed to play, so we didn’t go out. That left us with three days off and only one day this week of playing. Ugh. Tuesday’s play was magical, but those damn park rangers! We’re scared to play now and there is nothing we do will change that. Nothing anyone else can do about it either. We have no legitimacy at the park or anywhere we play for that matter, yet we’re doing something people love that is unique in all the world. We’re these illegitimate street performers wandering around the world pushing our way into places we’re not really allowed to play, but really we’re uniquely talented, underrated artists who just need a opportunity to shine. The best thing anyone can do is to come see us prayform all the time, like Tori and Pascual and Bill do, and as they did today. Of course on the day we decided to go out to play, today, it was raining as we got on our bikes and it poured as we biked up the hill to the park. Thoth was in a really bad mood on our days off, so it made him feel worse. “What the f**k are we doing?” I thought to myself. Thoth was thinking the same, no doubt. The hallways were crowded with homeless people. We had to wait and I had to ask them to move. They ended up listening to us play.

I am so f**king tired of playing scared. Having our friends there makes all the difference. We will always be scared and we’ll always have to battle that fear every day. Sometimes it’s worse than other times. Every day we face the fear anew. Each day it’s, “Will we get harassed by the park rangers today or not?” We shouldn’t have to be afraid. When that park ranger bothered us the first time, he ruined our peace of mind. We have to be strong and try to not let it affect it, but it threatens our whole lifestyle here in San Diego. This is our winter home and if we can’t play in the park anymore, we can’t be in San Diego. Getting through this season without another incident wouldn’t change anything, because next January we’ll have to face it all over again. Why do we have to be afraid to play our beautiful music in a public space? We should feel loved and protected and cared for. Our fans and friends do that for us. The park rangers do nothing but scare and intimidate and harass us. I don’t even think they can do anything to us other than that. F**k.

Today was one of those prayformance we really had to push through. It was one of those prayformance I just wanted to sit down and cry. I know you my friends only wish the best for us and believe we will find success, but I have no illusions, or delusions, about it. I look at Thoth who is 62 and no better off than me. A man of great knowledge and skill and talent who may never see any rewards for his work, other than that he manages somehow to do it until his death, and that he has me. I know any of you who are reading would do something if you could. Sometimes I believe success will come. One could say we have found success by simply by finding a way to live a creative life, but I’m imagining something more significant. Even after having played for an hour, we still didn’t feel better. The rain and the lack of donations didn’t help my mood either. January and February are notoriously rough, and it’s hard not to let it affect our moods. It will be this way always. At least we get to play. In NYC or pretty much anywhere else we wouldn’t be able to play at all during these months. We just have to weather it and push through. That’s all we can do. Sometimes it feels like everything is hanging on by the smallest thread, and no one can help us. It could so easily fall apart, but so could anyone’s life. Bill said something else interesting. No one is safer than us. We just live that truth honestly. We are not safe. We have no possessions. People try to make themselves feel safe with money and houses and cars, but we have none of those things. We have our work, we have each other and we have our gifts and talents to do the work we need to do. That is worth more than anything in the world combined. Those who see that are our friends.

Thursday February 16th and Friday Feb. 17th 2017

“Solice” by General Fuzz and “Miss You” by Trentemoller have been my soundtracks all our days off this week. I can’t stop listening to them. The song “Solice” is eerie and goes well with the play I’m writing a plot for. I got the plot for “The Land of Deadly Echoes” basically finished and turned it in for Thoth to read. I painted for a few hours and once Thoth read the plot, he told me a few things didn’t quite work, which I fixed. He read it again and said it was good. I was so happy. I finally finished the plot synopsis for my play!! 1 month and 3 weeks of work every morning. I almost gave up a few times. Now I have to write the play, which will be even more difficult! I made a vlog of my new drawings for you, with concept sketches for my characters from the play called Fray Wrathanian and Ashen Delency. I started drawing a scary face using the dark paints I bought on Wednesday to start painting the sketches I’ve done over the last week or so. Painting is challenging for me. It isn’t as precise as drawing, but I’m learning white paint can be used to tidy things up. It’s a challenge to try and make faces look scary. On Friday I started adding other faces to my painting. Drawing is a stress reliever for me.

I started drawing a scary face using the dark paints I bought on Wednesday to start painting the sketches I’ve done over the last week or so. Painting is challenging for me. It isn’t as precise as drawing, but I’m learning white paint can be used to tidy things up. It’s a challenge to try and make faces look scary. On Friday I started adding other faces to my painting.

Tough Few Days

Thursday October 6th 2016

1 2I was so discouraged today. Didn’t want to go out to play at all. I was depressed. Started thinking about Martha’s Vineyard and how much I miss it. We will probably never go there again and I don’t know why. I loved Martha’s Vineyard. We were so supported there. I wish we had more of that. I was hoping we’d do a show once a year in Martha’s Vineyard, but that’s not happening. Not one person who saw the shows liked us enough to bring us back. It depresses me a lot when I think about it.

The park seemed busy and quiet. Three people were waiting for us to begin. One woman sat on a pillar. She had unicorn hair, like me. She had seen us last week, went to our website, read my blog and listened to all of our music. Her name was Rachael. I love that. Such a rare thing. No one has said anything about my blog for months. It’s hard to keep going when no one seems to care. It takes every fiber of our being to do what we do. It’s so easy for someone to write something, say something, throw us a dollar. The least anyone can do is show a little support.

Rachael sat and watched our entire prayformance. It helped to have one person witnessing us. We got through an hour and 40 minutes and I just couldn’t perform anymore. It wasn’t as bad as yesterday, but it was still slow. Rachael knelt and spoke with us while we packed up. The amplified trio started playing. Whenever we hear them, we get sad. I called the park rangers, but who knows if they would come. We walked to the train, got salads for dinner and went home.

Wednesday October 5th 2016

Today was tough. I wasn’t very inspired to get up and got out to play, but I did. I did very simple makeup and hair, but I felt beautiful. That’s all that matters.45Dan Rubin came and Cover Story was performing. They hadn’t been at the tunnel for a week. We missed them! They said hello to us. They had a big crowd and it was quiet, so we thought we’d have a great day. Not so much.

We had big crowds but that was it. Generosity? Clapping? Not so much. The entire two hours, the same. A big crowd would gather, they’d clap tentatively, then no one (or maybe just one or two people) would come forward and they’d all just stand there staring at us. No one said anything to us. It was especially hard after seeing a sold out show where people were laughing and cheering and clapping emphatically the night before. We are alone, especially when things get hard. Our frustrations, our bad days aren’t very important to anyone.

Photo by Dan Rubin.

Photo by Dan Rubin.

I know. Boo hoo, poor me! I’m a world traveling musician who makes a living singing, only two hours a day. Easy you’d say. The truth is, it’s not! We’re struggling every day to get up and do it by ourselves. It is our choice to do it. That’s why no one else in the world does what we do. It’s too hard! I do wish it wasn’t such a lonely path. At least I have my Bunny. Being yourself requires trudging along through life alone. The fact I found someone to be at my side is incredible. We are alone, together, fighting the constant and daily uphill battle to make our art in this unfair and unjust world.

Photo by Dan Rubin.

Photo by Dan Rubin.

The fact we’re still doing it, that Thoth has been doing this for half his life is staggering. No matter how many great days we have, the days always get hard again. That’s life. We treated ourselves to salads and doughnuts for dessert.

Monday October 3rd 2016 and Tuesday October 4th 2016

So Monday and Tuesday (our days off) were pretty chill. On Monday we went to see a movie on 23rd St. and got a sandwich, doughnuts (at the best doughnut shop in NYC, Doughnut Plant) and ate our (free) leftovers from Sunday night at home. For how little I eat, I f’ing LOVE food!

On Tuesday we stayed in the house all day until time to go see “Falsettos” on Broadway. Sarah Kernochan, James Lapine’s wife, got us free tickets in the orchestra. (James is the director and book writer of the show.) We got there early and got a juice to tide us over for dinner. Picked up our tickets at the box office and went in.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was James. I got up and hugged him. Such an awesome guy. We haven’t seen him since our opera commission last August in Martha’s Vineyard. He’s one of those people I love and admire a lot yet hardly ever see, like my other friend James, from England.

The first act was hysterical. The second act was more serious. I liked the first act more. James talked to us a little when the show was over. The show is in previews so he has to be there to watch it and give notes at the end. Stressful. We walked to 41st St. to have burgers for dinner. It was past midnight when we got home.

Doing What Needs to Be Done!

Monday August 29th 2016

It took another 2 hours to get from Sutton to London Blackfriars. Even though we knew we’d have to take the bus, it was still hard. Too much for not enough reward. I was also frustrated about two things I wasn’t getting a response about and it was driving me nuts. There was a guitarist playing at the spot who we’d never seen before. He kept playing and playing until Thoth went over and said we were queuing. He didn’t say when he’d be finished. We both assumed he wouldn’t follow the hour and a half play rule as he’d probably already been playing there for hours beforehand.

After an hour and a half passed. I motioned to him to see if he was done. He kind of mocked my motion as if he wasn’t done. He got out a cigarette and came over to us. I told him it’s normal for people to play an hour and a half, then switch off with someone who is waiting. “Do I look like a normal person?” he said stupidly. I wanted to say, “Yes. I’ve seen your act everywhere in the world.” but instead I said, “It’s just nice to let others play.” For some reason, he did let us play but called us an “American Freak Show.” Who the f*** knows why. I muttered how I didn’t like being called a freak show. What a jerk.

This girl who sings opera came over to watch us. She loves our music. She met Thoth when I’d gone to see James last week. She told us she had arguments with guitarist man. “He plays and plays so he doesn’t have to talk to people and he never wants to share.” she said. So we were right about him. We played less than an hour. Our voices and bodies were too tired. We had crowds for the first half, but they died down after an hour. Oh well. We finished with “Scottish Song” to a crowd of maybe one person, who clapped. I didn’t care because I was happy we did it. “We did it.” I said when we finished, kissing Thoth. We did what we needed to do. We even sold two CDs. We immediately went into the train station to go home, knowing it would take another 2 hours to get back to Sutton. We need to live closer to, or better yet, in Central London when we visit next August. We’ll never play at Blackfriars again, but it did get us through this our first try in London.

We went to a delicious Indian restaurant near home. It was a satisfying ending to a very hard, but very successful day. When we got home, I got two emails with exciting things. I can’t wait to tell you about them.

Sunday August 28th 2016

We decided not to go into the city to play at Blackfriars today. It was cold and rainy and the trains still weren’t running from Sutton, making it a two hour, very boring and seemingly pointless trip. Instead we hung out in the house until 2pm and then went for food and drinks at a pub with Kaja and Emil. I tried not to get upset about not going to play. It was 5pm by the time we were done. The day got away with us. I’m glad. I never enjoy days when we’re not playing and I know we should. We’ll go play tomorrow, even though the trains still won’t be running. Ugh. It’ll be the last time we’ll have to take that trip.

Saturday August 27th 2016

We got out of the house by 2pm. Decent timing, or so we thought. The train from Sutton wasn’t running, again. It didn’t run last Sunday and it took for f***ing ever to get to London Blackfriars. I was pissed off knowing we’d have to take the shaky, vomit-inducing bus instead. I practically threw my violin on the floor I was so mad. I do get upset when things don’t go as planned, and that happens a lot in my life.

We got to Blackfriars at 2pm. It took 2 hours to get there. Ridiculous! We most definitely will be staying nearer to London next time. That kind of long transit makes us miserable. We had to wait another 2 hours to play because the bassist was playing. I was really frustrated. We played an hour and a half. It was ok, but the space isn’t that great for us we’ve found. At least we know now where we need to live and where we shouldn’t play. Next year we’ll audition to play at Covent Garden. That could be the place for us. James and I saw an opera singer there last week and he had a huge crowd. We would blow everyone away.

We walked to Waterloo station to have sushi at Wasabi and then took another 2 hour trip home. That one wasn’t as bad because I took something to keep me from getting motion sick. What would I do without my little Bunny? We can make our way through any problem. We just do what needs to be done!